Four out of five patients in America have some degree of gum disease. Since many of these patients have gums that appear relatively healthy a visual examination is not an adequate means of diagnosing gum disease. Therefore a gum examination should be performed periodically depending on the patient’s age, oral hygiene, frequency of dental visits, etc.
A small measuring device called a periodontal probe is gently inserted between the tooth and gum at six points on each tooth. The examiner is looking for bleeding and for the “pocket” depth. Bleeding points and all six measurements for each tooth is marked on the periodontal examination form. Bleeding points are the primary indicator for active gum disease. Pocket depths are used to determine the extent or stage of gum disease present. Once the examination is completed the results are used in conjunction with the x-rays to determine the stage of disease if any is present.